AUSTIN (KXAN) — When you come to watch Austin FC play, one of the first things you’ll notice is the pitch.
The grass the teams will play on is called Platinum TE Seashore Paspalum and Q2 Stadium will be the first professional soccer stadium in the United States to have it.
It’s specially grown in Phoenix, Arizona.
Senior Director of Grounds Weston Appelfeller chose this specific type of grass for a reason.
“Because of its ability to withstand the Texas heat, but also to grow in the shade. We have this huge canopy over top of our stadium to help protect the fans and cool them down, but it makes growing grass extremely difficult,” said Appelfeller.
Because of the varying amounts of sun, they actually have sunlight simulating equipment they can put over shady areas to help growth.
Rain gauges are positioned throughout the stadium to measure how much water Mother Nature is providing and soil moisture sensors determine areas of the pitch that need a bit more.
When it’s hot they use high-powered fans to help circulate the air around the grass to prevent fungus from developing.
“We can fertilize, we can water when we want to water and all that kind of stuff, but we can’t control the storms that roll in,” said Appelfeller.
So they designed the field to withstand heavy rain, too.
You can think of the Austin FC pitch like an iceberg. There is much more below the surface than what you see on top. On top it’s basically half an inch of grass cut very short. Below that though is 10 inches of sand that helps with drainage. Below that is 4 inches of gravel and finally below that are drainage pipes scattered throughout the pitch to help take away excess water.
If it’s too dry, they water it, but this specific grass has very long roots that need less water than other grasses.
“It’s pretty hardy grass and we’re looking forward to seeing what it can do after we have it in for a full season,” said Appelfeller.
Austin FCs first home game is scheduled for June 19 when they play the San Jose Earthquakes.
The three KXAN channels are the official regional English language broadcasters of Austin FC.